New Delhi/Bengaluru: Persistent heavy rains have caused widespread disruption in India's major cities and severe floods in the rugged northeast have killed at least 12 people, the federal government said on Friday.
About 50,000 people from southern and eastern India had to be evacuated as storms pushed water levels to dangerous levels, damaging crops and causing more than 3,000 houses to collapse.
Flooding, an annual problem during the monsoon season, has been worsened by crumbling civic infrastructure, clogged drains and uncontrolled urban expansion in a country with a fast-growing population of 1.3 billion.
Thousands vented their anger on social media after being stranded for up to 12 hours as traffic gridlock paralysed roads in the business hub of Gurgaon near New Delhi, the capital.
Schools were also ordered to be shut down for two days. Prohibitory orders were imposed near Hero Honda Chowk in a bid to ease the congestion caused by massive traffic jams.
Many motorists abandoned their vehicles and waded through knee-deep water which accumulated on both the carriageways of Delhi-Jaipur road, including Hero Honda Chowk, bringing traffic to a standstill with the tailback extending up to 15-20 km.
Gurgaon Police has issued an advisory asking people coming to Gurgaon from Delhi to avoid travelling.
Trains were also delayed.
"It took me four hours to drive 6km (4 miles)," said Randeep Dev, a consultant at a private bank in New Delhi.
"Our cities are a living hell in the monsoon."
Tracts of the southern technology hub of Bengaluru, and the financial capital of Mumbai on the west coast, were inundated by flood waters and sewage swirled in the streets.
Fire officials in Bengaluru, formerly known as Bangalore, used boats to rescue people stranded near Electronics City, home to technology firms and multinationals such as Infosys, the business process outsourcing giant.
Forecasters warned of a new round of heavy rains and flooding, as the government opened shelters and stepped up emergency rescue operations. In the northeastern state of Assam, troops pressed boats and helicopters into the effort to pull hundreds of people to safety from floodwaters that had trapped them in their homes, senior military official Ajit Borah said.
In the state's Kaziranga National Park, a sanctuary for the Indian one-horned rhinoceros, water levels were receding, four days after some of the young animals had to be rescued.
Others floundered through the water or strayed across roads, in video images captured by people living nearby.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced grand designs to build 100 futuristic 'smart' cities, but this week's floods highlighted the need to improve living conditions in cities and rein in unplanned urban sprawl.
Incessant rains crippled normal life in several parts of Bengaluru, leaving in its wake waterlogged roads, flooded houses and severe traffic jams.
Low-lying areas, particularly Kodichikkanahalli and Bilekahalli, were the worst affected by the flooding as water entered houses following the breach of a lake. The Fire department deployed boats in Kodichikkanahalli to evacuate stranded people from their buildings, officials said.
People were also seen fishing near the swelling lakes. Overflowing lakes and drains coupled with uprooted trees compounded woes for commuters.
Adding to this was a traffic gridlock that left a long pile-up of vehicles on roads across the city, particularly on the routes leading to Electronics City, the IT hub.
As all the major arterial roads that connects to the city and ring roads witnessed traffic snarls, office goers had a harrowing time in reaching their destination on time.
Twenty-six people have died and about 2.2 million were affected so far in Bihar floods with many rivers, including Koshi, flowing above danger mark.
While Kishanganj alone accounted eight flood-related deaths, seven others perished in Purnia district, the state Disaster Management Department said.
Katihar and Madhepura district accounted for two deaths each, while Araria and Saharsa recorded one casualty each in the current wave of floods, it said in a statement.
The western parts of Uttar Pradesh witnessed heavy rainfall on Friday. According to the MeT department, moderate rain or thundershower occured at many places over western Uttar Pradesh.